As he advised, the Government has been planning long before the first case of Covid-19 was confirmed in Jersey, to protect Islanders. From the outset, its response has been planned around three priorities: ‘life, livelihoods and wellbeing'.
Firstly, we need the whole economy to recover quickly when we are through the worst of this disruption. Keeping businesses operational is critical to keeping people in work.
Secondly, we must try to maintain the critical relationship between employer and employee to protect from redundancies and job losses, now and in the future.
Thirdly, we must also ensure that businesses have the people and skills around them to adapt, where possible, to face this difficult and changing situation.
Fourthly, we must protect the self-employed people and sole traders on the Island.
Politicians must react and be agile to the needs of people and businesses in the Island. Following extensive feedback from local businesses and stakeholders, and the welcome assistance of Jersey Business, Senator Farnham has advised that the Council of Ministers have agreed to enhance the Government Payroll Co-funding Scheme in Phase 2.
They had previously announced that for April, May and June, they would refund employers, including charities, a maximum of £1600 per employee, per month, namely 80% of a worker’s salary up to £2000.
This funding would originally only be made available providing that the employer paid their employees in full, in the normal way. To benefit from the scheme, businesses also had to demonstrate material detriment, confirming a drop in turnover of at least 30% in the month, because of COVID-19.
The amendments which were announced yesterday, provide additional flexibility for employers who are struggling the most - giving them the best opportunity to ensure their continued viability and increasing their ability to retain their staff in employment.
Where a business can prove that it has insufficient working capital or cash flow to enable it to meet normal obligations, it will not be required to contribute a mandatory percentage to the scheme and it can therefore pass the value of the subsidy it receives directly to the employee - up to a maximum of £1600.
As Senator Farnham stressed, at this stage, Government expects businesses to do everything in their power to ensure workers receive their agreed wage. However, where there is a risk that the employee would not be paid, it is preferable that they can continue to benefit from remaining in employment, albeit on reduced hours, rather than potentially facing lay-off or redundancy.
Employers will still be required under the employment law to agree all changes to employment contracts with their staff in the normal way.
For the self-employed, Senator Farnham confirmed that Islanders who work for themselves and are affected by COVID-19 business disruption, will receive a payment of 80% of their average monthly income - based on figures for 2019 - up to a total of £1600 per month for April, May and June 2020.
As a result of the changes announced yesterday, employers in Jersey - like the UK - will now be able, in specific circumstances, to be reimbursed for up to 80% of employee wages from the Government. However, unlike the UK Furlough scheme, that employer can still utilise the employee for work over this time. This contributes to positive activity in the economy and helps islanders continue to work.
The full scheme is expected to cost up to £138 million over three months – and can be reviewed for extension if disruption continues after June 2020.
As Senator Farham advised, planning is already under way to support businesses through the recovery phase once medical advice allows for the easing of Social Distancing and the Stay at Home measures. Government is also planning to engage with local business experts and its specialist advisors to make a robust plan for our economic future.
As we have all experienced over the last few weeks, the global public health crisis caused by the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic has fundamentally changed the way we live our lives.
Some of these changes will be temporary, and many will have long-lasting effects. While there may be challenging consequences, there are also positive outcomes and opportunities for us, as our community comes together to overcome the greatest challenge of our time.
You may have seen in this regard, some of the regular weekly articles, which we have been invited to submit to the Jersey Evening Post and in which we have been detailing the new approaches, which some of our Members have adopted, to serve their clients through this pandemic.
In addition, our article yesterday for the Coping in a Crisis Supplement, which not only outlined the approach which we have taken as a key body over the course of the last few weeks but also the case studies which we have been providing of the ways in which our Committee and Sub-Committee members have been assisting local businesses, as much as possible, with their various tips for remote working.
If any Member requires any further information or wish to feed back any concerns or raise queries, please do not hesitate to contact our Branch Officer, Zoe Wauton [email protected]IoD.net, as we are here to help.
In this regard, I am indebted to the IoD Jersey Committee, each of the ten sub-committees, our PR team (Natasha Egre of Marbral Advisory and Jo Ferbrache and Yvonne Corbin of Betley Whitehorne Image) and all of you, for your feedback and assistance which has been greatly appreciated.
As I highlighted in my article yesterday, collaboration is really key in these unprecedented times, to ensure the ongoing and future success of our Island. It has been very positive indeed therefore to see not only such a great spirit within our IoD Jersey team of approximately 65 volunteers but also more widely across our community, from the front line employees across all business, through to the making of home-made facemasks.
Finally, my sincere thanks in particular to our health care workers on the frontline, who are putting their own lives at risk, to protect and care for all of us. I am sure we all have family and friends in this field and are only too aware of the considerable sacrifices which they are all making for themselves and their families in these difficult and challenging times.
I have no doubt that the weekly #ClapForOurCarers event has also become a firm fixture in each of your homes too, for those who are working tirelessly throughout the ongoing pandemic and I look forward to joining you all remotely for this at 8pm this evening.
Very best wishes and stay safe.
Lisa Springate, Chair - IoD Jersey Branch